Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Pleasant Discovery:
I read a book called 'Louis Riel:A Comic Strip Biography' by graphic artist Chester Brown in the recent past. I'd still like to review the book here if time permits. Anyways the ordering information is via Raincoast Books, 9050 Shaughnessey St., Vancouver BC V6P 6E5 or, in the USA, at Chronicle Books, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
The interesting thing is that I immediately 'clicked' as to the artwork being in the style of Herge's Tin Tin. The author's notes disavowed this and said that his greatest influence was Harold Gray's 'Little Orphan Annie'. My memory is much more acute for Tin Tin than for Little Orphan Annie so I had to take it on faith.
But now I am reading 'Understanding Comics' by Scott McCloud, also a "graphic novel", but this time a dissertation on comic art. On pages 52-53 of this book the author presents a diagram that illustrates the various styles of comic art in the shape of a triangle. The bottom of the graph goes from 'realistic' to 'iconic abstraction'. The vertical axis stands for 'non-iconic abstraction' where the process of simplification and detachment from "photo-realism" doesn't depend upon trying to convey meaning but rather lets the artwork stand by itself. Most comic art falls near the bottom of the graph in that the process of abstraction still intends to convey meaning, in perhaps even an accentuated for.
Well, what is my surprise ? There it is in the graph. Tin Tin falls exactly ! next to Little Orphan Annie in the chart, trending slightly to more abstraction. Looks like I wasn't so far off after all. The near neighbours are interesting as well. to the slightly more realistic side of Annie is Dan De Carlo's 'Veronica' from Archie Comics. to the more abstract side of Tin Tin is Floyd Gottfredson's 'Mickey Mouse' (I wonder where Carl Barks would fall ?- the author puts him in about the same place, along with Pat Sullivan's 'Felix the Cat' and Uderzo's 'Asterix'). Up from Tin Tin to the non-iconic direction is Charles Schulz's 'Peanuts', and up from Annie is George McManus' 'Bringing Up Father'.
All told it's an interesting comic neighbourhood. More on this book later as well, I hope.

No comments: